From 1 July 2020, all individuals aged 13 and above who are diagnosed with acute respiratory infection (ARI) at first presentation to a doctor will be tested for COVID-19, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong announced on Thursday (25 June).
Mr Gan said the move is part of the measures the government has now put in place to curb the spread of the virus in Singapore. The health ministry expects COVID-19 cases here to rise as the country gradually reopens after the two-month-long “circuit breaker” period.
Diagnosed with acute respiratory infection: Testing to be extended to those aged 13 and above
“As clinical and scientific evidence shows that an infected person is most infectious right before and immediately after the start of symptoms, doing so allows us to detect infected individuals early and to quickly contain further spread,” said the Ministry of Health (MOH).
“We have expanded our active surveillance efforts to more population groups who are deemed vulnerable or who have a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19,” MOH said in a statement. This includes the completion of the recent testing of staff and residents of MOH and Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) residential homes serving the elderly, as well as all staff of preschools.
Preschool staff queue for testing in the proactive screening conducted by the government to those having a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 infection. | Image source: Ministry of Education/Ong Ye Kung Facebook
“We have also started regular testing of workers returning to work in the construction, marine and process sectors, and frontline workers supporting our COVID-19 operations,” it added.
Meanwhile, the health ministry said doctors will continue to assess if a test is required for children aged 12 and below who are diagnosed with ARI, “given different clinical considerations for young children.”
DORSCON Orange to remain for now
While the Ministry believes Singapore is a now in a “better situation,” it says it would prefer to closely watch the situation before making any changes to the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level.
In a press conference, Ministry of Health’s (MOH) director of medical services, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, said the government has no plans to lower DORSCON level just yet, adding that the authorities do not want to risk de-escalating DORSCON prematurely and make the public complacent by lowering the level.
Image source: gov.sg/Ministry of Health
The government upped the country’s DORSCON level from yellow to orange on 7 February—just one step below red which signifies an out-of-control pandemic.
DORSCON takes into account:
- The current disease situation overseas
- How transmissible the disease is
- How likely it is to arrive in Singapore
- What impact it may have on Singapore’s community
Five Community Cases of COVID-19 Infection Reported on 25 June
Meanwhile, as of 25 June at 12 noon, Singapore reported 113 new COVID-19 infections, including five cases in the community. This brings Singapore’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 42,736.
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